O Soo Mooi ! Fraai Curieus !

Satire, Politics and the Magic Lantern in the 18th. Century
The use of the Magic Lantern as Political Instrument and Satirical Commentary
(Reference source: Prof. André Hanou
& Dr. Rietje van Vliet)

Image below: Projected by the Magic Lantern, the Prince of Orange (Willem V Oranje Nassau 1748 - 1806) with his wife and 3 children.
An angel above holding a wreath, with in the background the Dutch Lion holding a sheaf of 7 arrows. (7 provinces of the Republic)
People of various classes running in fear of being struck by lightning, and the army depicted as a group of watchful soldiers.

Lanterne Magique of Toverlantaern, O Soo Mooi ! Fraai curieus !

... vertoonende zeer duidelyk de Wonderlyke Zaaken, die in deezen Wonderlyke Tyd voorvallen ...

"Ha ha ! Messieurs & Mesdames ! daar sien um al weeromme de Savoiaarte, in de ordre parfaitement, met de Lanterne Magique,
met de nouvelles Pieces, o so mooi ! fraai curieus ! Keeve wel akte !

Engraved frontispiece, showing people in a darkened room looking at a scene projected by a Magic Lantern
With thanks to Prof. André Hanou for an historical interpretation of the illustration.

Satire, Politics and the Magic Lantern in the 18th. Century
The use of the Magic Lantern as Political Instrument and Satirical Commentary

Both, the concept of the Rarekiek (Peepshow) and the Magic Lantern narrator were often used in 18th. century political-satirical magazines by anonymous authors. By this their identity was hidden which enabled them to spit critique on the establishment. Magazine authors became imaginary Lantern and Peepshowman. These spectator magazines became a popular genre in political pamphlets or magazines and the authors 'disguise' as an anonymous writers, such as the Savoyard, was based on itinerant fairground people who demonstrated their hand-painted slides and transparent peepshow images.

Most of the true traveling showmen came from Wallonië, Belgium, and used the language known as 'Koeterwaals', a mixture between Flemish & French. The use of the language guaranteed laughter and amusement. The narrator was kept out of range for his critique since he was only the voice to explain the news, fact & fiction, with the aid of popular hantpainted images for projection.

More information, in Dutch, can be found in a text by Rietje van Vliet.
Read a Dutch text on the Rarekiek, made available online by Prof. Harmsen, University of Leiden.

Read more about this topic in Dutch Perspectives.

Titlepage of 'Lanterne Magique of Toverlantaern, O Soo Mooi! Fraai Curieus!'

'Lanterne Magique of Toverlantaern ...' is a Satirical periodical, published in 20 issues from September 1782 till June 1783 and often wrongly attributed to Kees Vermynen, bookseller at Rotterdam. The first two issues are especially addressed to the readers of the "spectatorial" weekly 'De Post van den Nederrhyn', very popular at the time. At the end of the first three issues is announced that the present periodical is sold at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, 's-Gravenhage, and Utrecht, but certainly not "by die Ouderwetsche Patriotische Prins-gezinde Boekwurmen, als Gosse, Bennet & Hake, Luzac & van Damme, Agé, Van Os, Kraeft, van Dyk etc."

The periodical is entirely written in 'Koeterwaals', the Savoiaardte language (Dutch & French), and makes relentless fun of the Patriots and their French orientated democratic views. But also other political issues are discussed, like the position of England and her colonies, John Adams' mission, etc. The anonymously published issues were at first ascribed to the Orangist, R.M. van Goens, and the "Nouveau Lanterne Magique" published in reaction against the present "Lanterne Magique" was especially aimed at Van Goens. The title itself: 'Toverlantaern, O Soo Mooi', became popular for all similar satirical publications, with 'Nieuwe Tooverlantaern' as reaction against it.

Today, Herman Bollaert uses 'Koeterwaals' in the first part of his Laterna Magica Galantee Show, based on this book.

Textpage in Koeterwaals (Savoyard) language of scene depicted in the frontispiece above.

Vot Serviteur Trèshumble


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